Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Planning Committee

Having a garden makes one appreciate the individual seasons more, I think.  To farmers of old, winter was a welcome respite from never-ending days of working under the sun outdoors.  Time to reflect, to read, to plan for the seasons to come.

Even though I don't love the cold, and the past few days have been pretty frigid, I'm not resenting this winter as much so far.  It's true that it's only the beginning of December so give me a couple months and see if the positive attitude holds up!

We are working hard to keep up with the kids' schoolwork.  When we break from that, the kids watch movies and play with Lego. I read books on urban permaculture, the seed catalogues which are beginning to arrive, and draw plans. 
Current Favourite!

I printed out a site drawing of our property from the real estate documents when we bought this place, and drew in the existing trees and features.  

Then went a little crazy dreaming!  The green or black parts are existing, the red is all planning for the spring of 2015.

As I browse through catalogues and read books, I scribble in additions and scratch things off.  There's a more detailed plan for the kidney shaped flower bed.  This is going to become our Food Forest experiment, starting with herbs and edibles growing under the apple tree which was planted in the middle of the flowerbed.

The plan is to put in asparagus crowns along the back edge of that garden for their tall, ferny impact once the delicious shoots of spring have passed.  Ring the front border with flowering chives and bushy purple kale and perennial Italian parsley (J found some last year and its still green under the snow!).  Build a rockery spiral or two for annual herbs (topped with a birdbath?) and fill in the bed with tall coneflowers (echinacea), medicinal calendula and bee balm.  The bees and butterflies should love it!  There is already a tangle of naturalized flowers in this area, but I will nudge them aside with the new features, and gradually have the edibles take over.  In the meantime, no bare soil!

The herb seed shopping list reads as:
Summer Savory
Veseys Basil Blend
Panorama Bee Balm
German Chamomile
Flowering Chives
Genesis Cilantro
Bouquet Dill
Munstead Lavender
Lemon Balm
Sweet Marjoram
Mojito Mint
Greek Oregano
Forest Green Parsley (the annual kind)
Winter Sage
English Thyme

Because perennial parsley is so uncommon, I'll check for established seedlings in some of the nurseries we've had experience finding unusual species.  Apache Seeds on 149 Street and Stony Plain Road here in Edmonton, would be my first place to check.  Last year they had perennial pansies and some of the hardier kiwi, grape and fig varieties.  

We've always tried to mostly plant fruit bearing trees and shrubs (one exception being the rose garden), but the plan is to flesh out a few more empty spots with appropriate species that will feed us and also look pretty.  Such as: Gooseberries under the living room window where peonies presently attract ant colonies toward the house. Jostaberries to replace a gnarled caragana shrub under the kitchen window.  Mint will be given a chance to invade the now empty space alongside our entryway.  More hardy grapes to surround our glassed in patio, and some hardy kiwi to espalier to the sunny back fence. Spineless raspberries inserted where the old canes have died away by the far garden shed. 

J has installed himself as Master Gardener and I don't dare directly interfere with his vegetable garden planning (weeding is considered acceptable however!) I do have a couple of suggestions for him that I think will both look pretty and attract essential pollinators.  I'm excited to see Painted Lady Runner Beans and Rumba nasturtiums in bloom and I think J could be persuaded to tuck a few between the vegetable rows especially since they are edible! And of course, a few sunflowers are an important part of any respectable garden, don't you think?

Our Ry talks of filling in the lawn space of our back yard with enough trees to have our own personal forest.  An orchard in the city?  Sounds kind of cool to me!